Tuesday, August 13, 2013

As MTV Video Music Awards approach, Prospect Heights neighbors frustrated with lack of cooperation, pose numerous questions

The Barclays Center is preparing busily for the MTA Video Music Awards on Sunday, August 25, a day in the national spotlight, and a complicated event both inside and outside of the facility, with street closures coming two days earlier and a stream of trucks well before then.

The expected media crush, and paparazzi, will put unusual pressure on the residential blocks outside the Barclays Center, especially since the back of the arena, in Prospect Heights--rather than the plaza--will be where the red carpet is set up.

Locals frustrated

Meanwhile, under-informed locals are becoming increasingly frustrated, as DNAInfo reported yesterday, Barclays Center Neighbors Say MTV Stiffing Community on Donations, Meetings

"The only thing we’ve received so far is a notice about when the streets are going to be closed," Tom Boast of the Carlton Avenue Block Association told DNAInfo, citing pending issues regarding "traffic, sanitation, crowd control, and other neighborhood disruptions."

Not only did representatives for MTV and the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting not attend the Quality of Life Committee meeting when event issues were raised, a meeting that included MTV, the mayoral office, and the 78th Precinct was scheduled for July 31, but canceled--apparently because word had circulated so much it promised to be a larger meeting than officials anticipated.

As DNAInfo pointed out, MTV has not provided the donations that those filming typically offer when they impose on a neighborhood. "I don't care about discounted tickets," Community Board 8 member Robert Puca said, regarding the two $75 tickets locals were offered. "I want mitigation of the impacts, or compensation for it."

MTV spokesman Jake Urbanski told the publication that compensation would include "free VMA tickets to dozens of worthy, local organizations benefiting youth, students and the arts"--those those groups don't necessarily represent locals.

DNAInfo got some murky quotes from others involved, including a Barclays claim that they had responded to "any questions raised by neighbors" and a mayoral statement that there's a phone number to could call with concerns.

More concerns

Neighbors yesterday circulated further information that has surfaced, including:
  • Construction of a set and bleachers outdoors near the Dean Street and 6th Avenue intersection will take place days prior to the event. Work may take place at night.
  • Hundreds of people are being cast to welcome celebrities as they travel down the red carpet primarily on 6th Avenue, but also on Dean Street. The HPD parking lot and possibly Dean Playground will be used to marshal these people.
  • The Dean Street side of Dean Playground will be temporarily closed. 
  • Dean Street from Carlton to Vanderbilt may not be restricted after all.
  • Fans without tickets are expected to collect in areas where they anticipate views of the celebrities. These fans will be penned directly outside the restricted areas at the same time thousands of arena patrons are arriving to attend the event.
Pending questions

They've also posed a series of questions to agencies involved and MTV, including:

  • Has the red carpet been placed on Dean Street and 6th Avenue as a security requirement, or because the location is MTV’s preference?
  • Although the event has been in planning for a year, there was no notice to the community until after the community boards closed for the summer. Will the Mayor’s Office and the arena agree to reach out in a timely way to the relevant community boards while they are in session before each event of this type in the future?
  • How many people are being hired to be in front of the cameras on Dean Street and 6th Avenue and what will their behavior be? How will they be managed during the production? Will they be loud?
  • How many production trucks are anticipated to be on site at the time of the event and where will they be located?
  • Where are limos going to pick-up and discharge passengers? What are the routes to and from the “off-site” location they are anticipated to be located during the event? Where is that “off-site” location?
  • Will the arena agree to pay for additional enforcement to ensure that illegal parking is not tolerated?
  • If fans arrive early, where will they be directed to wait?
  • Closing 6th Avenue for 3 days appears to be the most consequential single closure. What is the detour? Is the goal for the detour to route traffic down arterial streets instead of residential streets? Will there be signs and traffic agents?
  • Which nights will outdoor construction take place and how late will it run? Will you agree to restrict work hours outdoors to specific times or limit the number of days it will take place?
  • Please explain the procedure to pass through security and visit a friend’s home inside. What times are the restrictions to be in place?

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